Well, what a week. And not just because I took a day off from posting yesterday. This was purely intentional, and nothing to do with me writing a post then accidentally scheduling it for next Friday, nosireebob. Still, more time to write my usual on-brand leftie sludge to infect your eyes and ears this weekend, I guess.
And what a weekend, coming as it did at the end of a week when England came out of lockdown – Hoorah! – with most of the country being placed in either Tier 2 or 3 as they emerged, blinking into the sunlight. This is to be reviewed again on December 16th, a week before we all get 5 days off worrying about Covid so we can pretend we’re good Christians and go mix with our families for Christmas.
I can’t see, for the sake of 7 days, those rules being relaxed; in fact, I rather suspect that all currently in Tier 2 will be elevated to Tier 3 status, in the hope this will make the Christmas bubble as safe as possible. That makes sense to me, which probably means it’s the complete opposite of what the Goverment does.
Whilst I’ve been quick to point out the Government’s bumbling handling of the crisis from day one, it should perhaps be noted that not everyone within their ranks has agreed with their handling either. That’s pretty much where the Venn diagram of things me and some Conservatives think overlaps starts and ends, because it turns out we disagree for very different reasons.
My position, generally, is that the Government has been too slow to follow the science and put us into lockdown, and too quick to bring us out of it at the end of Lockdown #1, whilst some Tory MPs – and I’m looking at Brexit-barmy Steve Baker – feel the lockdown is an infringement of their civil liberties. It’s a frothing-mouthed argument you’ve doubtless heard from the other side of the pond many times, along with declarations that they’re perfectly entitled to threaten black people walking past their house with a 12 bore, and that “they” will never take away their right to bear arms, which is interesting, as I’d have thought having an extra digit on each hand might make it more difficult to fire a gun, but what do I know.
These are often the same people who subscribe to anti-vaccination conspiracy theories, and so I’ve been trying to think of a song which could be used as part of an advertising campaign – because you all know how much I love those – which might encourage those doubters that perhaps, just once, getting vaccinated against Covid might, just might, be a smart move. You know, if you want to live longer and stuff. And the best I could come up with – and yes, I’m really shoe-horning a song in here – along with a tag-line of “Take the cure, it will make you feel just like heaven”, is this:
What I’m saying is this: I am constantly amazed at how many people look across to America and to Trump’s followers, laugh and scoff at their actions but remain completely oblivious when the same arguments are raised over here.
The idea of being asked to wear a mask, or stay home, to prevent the spread of the virus, was met by many in the US, blindly following Trump, with exactly the same argument as Baker raised recently: it’s an infringement on my civil liberties. And if that’s what you think, then fine, go ahead, purify that gene pool. Don’t wear a mask, but don’t expect me to send flowers either.
But what made former Chairman of the ERG (the ironically-named pro-Brexit extremists European Research Group) Baker’s stance so unintentionally smirk-worthy (where’s Priti Patel when we need her? – oh, there she is, busy offending victims of the Windrush scandal by branding those calling for deportation flights to be stopped as “do-gooding celebrities”) was when he said on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme:
“This is a major infringement on a right to a family life…I’m looking at the European Convention on Human Rights as I speak to you….”
That’s the same European Convention on Human Rights which is incorporated in UK domestic law under the Human Rights Act 1998, which Baker voted to repeal in 2016.
He may as well have said:
“Wah! Wah! I hate the EU and the dictatorial Convention of Human Rights! Abolish it!”
*Feels slightly wronged*
“Well, let’s just blimming well see what the European Convention of Human Rights has to say about this outrage!”
Oh, sweet, sweet, delicious irony.
Speaking of the UK Government – as you knew I almost certainly would – this week it approved and took ownership of a whole lotta Covid vaccines. Hoorah! And as Health Secretary and winner of the award for Most Consistently Awkward Person in the Public Eye 2020 – mostly based on this:
…(and every other time he appeared in public, when, to be fair, he was also competing for the coveted Most Out Of Their Depth Politician 2020 award (previously known as The Chris Grayling Award) Matt Hancock trumpeted on Twitter, this was quite the achievement:
That “Help is on its way” bit is quite telling. To me it says: “Look, we’ve winged it for the past ten months, but we’ve got lucky. You know those science guys we’ve studiously ignored advice from? You know, those expert types we told you we’d all had enough of during the Brexit campaign? Turns out they’re quite useful after all. Unlike us.”
But first country in the world, eh? That must make us the bestest out of all the countries. So, that’s the highest Covid-related death count in Europe, and the fastest to validate and purchase a vaccine in the world that we have to be proud of. Hoorah for us!
If it weren’t for those pesky Americans and their much more massive country and death rate, we’d be #1 in the world for both. Grrr.
(By the way, is it just me that wonders if the rest of the world is using us as their lab rats, their beagles being smeared with cosmetics? “Let’s see how the English get on before we commit”, the snigger up their sleeves, “There’s bound to be some lessons to be learned about how not to do it.”)
Hancock’s right, of course. This was quite the quick turnaround, the fastest in the world, certainly much faster than those bloody Europeans we’ll soon be shot of. This was a “fact” much trumpeted by many on the right. For example, here’s our old pals at Leave.EU, with an Accidental Partridge to be proud of:
It just needs a “Oh Matt, that is textbook”, and that reference would make sense, as opposed to me just trying to justify the inclusion of my favourite Partridge scene ever. Which I’m going to do anyway:
“That’s first class. That is superb. Ooh, there you go, it’s all happening….Ooooh Matt, you know your onions!”
Now, I don’t know about you, but whenever I see that the Leave.EU lot have said something, I immediately assume it’s bollocks, and I want to investigate further: I want to metaphorically lift up the scrotum of Brexit and sniff around the perineum. And if you read a more unpleasant analogy than that this weekend, I want to know what it is.*
Here’s Jacob Rees-Moog saying much the same thing:
There’s a couple of problems with that, isn’t there?
Firstly: it’s not written in Latin to try and make him look clever, and what do you know, it’s proof that he isn’t;
Secondly: and this might come as a shock to some, but we haven’t actually left the EU yet. We’re still in the transition period, we’re still bound by the same EU rules as we have been for many years. Those negotiations that you keep seeing being mentioned on the news? They’re to see if we can agree a trade deal with the EU when we leave in January;
Thirdly: those same EU rules allow us, in certain circumstances, to make a unilateral decision on whether to accept, purchase and distribute the vaccine in question. And in case you don’t believe it, here’s an MHRA (that’s the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency) representative clarifying it for you:
Time for a tune, and the inclusion of this song makes way more sense if you listen to it; also I swear I had no idea what the record sleeve looked like until I’d already decided to include the song:
Anyway, here’s to a smooth roll out of the vaccine – and don’t even get me started on the logistical problems of transporting an item which has to be kept at below -70 degrees celsius, or I might start to come across as a vaccine-denier myself, which I’m not. I’ll be having it as soon as I’m allowed to, I don’t care if it makes me transmit 5G, or lets Jeff Bezos know my every waking desire.
Let’s just say, given the short shelf life the vaccine has, I hope they don’t plan on bringing any in via Dover after January 1st 2021.
Give me it. Give all of us it, so we can start trying to get back to something approaching normal.
I wanted to wrap things up this morning by extending a hand of friendship and sympathy to my friends back in Wales. Largely overlooked this side of the border as we focussed on such pressing matters as whether a Scotch egg constituted a ‘substantial meal’ – and if I have to see living Spitting Image puppet Michael Gove be asked about this one more time, I swear I might poke my own eyes out and use them as ear-plugs. If that’s what the Tories consider a “substantial meal” then it can be of no surprise at the contempt they show for those in poverty, having to resort to visiting food banks. “These people aren’t starving, not when they can afford a boiled egg, encased in pork then rolled in breadcrumbs.”
But I digress: following their “circuit-breaker” period, Wales are having to re-introduce stricter measures, one of which is that pubs and restaurants cannot serve alcohol.
I’m not sure I follow the logic of this rule, but I think it’s this: wishing to avoid a repeat of the scenes where those who have been for a few pints end up being turfed out at the same time as everyone else from every other pub in the locality, they have decided that none of them should be allowed to serve alcohol.
Which to my mind, no longer makes them a pub. A pub, unless you’re the designated driver, is a place you go to consume alcohol with friends and family.
This is going to massively hit the pub and restaurant trade in Wales because – and I speak as a resident for twenty years – coming up in the next couple of weeks is the biggest night out of the year: Black Friday.
In Cardiff, where I lived, the last Friday before Christmas was called Black Friday, because that was the day that everybody left their offices early, and went out on the lash. It was a night which was always great fun, as I remember it, but also one of absolute carnage. It was known as such long before any retailers got their greasy mitts on it and tried to flog us a discontinued microwave.
With many people working from home, Black Friday would have undoubtedly been more subdued than usual, but as it stands, it simply won’t be happening at all.
It’s an odd rule, this pub-can-open-but-can’t-serve-alcohol thing, and it put me in mind of this old song, which I’ll leave you all with for now: